Crazy Gang -
Collectively, the best loved bunch of pensioners ever to
tramp the boards, sing a song or raise a laugh. When The
Crazy Gang first came together in 1931 it was, perhaps, the
most unlikely troupe of acts ever assembled on the stage for
a single show. A pair of slapstick artists, an acrobatic
high-wire act and a couple of comics who laced their jokes
with schmaltzy songs wasn't really designed to set the stage
on fire. Not even if you threw in a juggler with a red nose
and a peculiar line of patter consisting of a little
fractured French and a heck of a lot of cockney. But succeed
they did and, by the time they made the very final of their
many final appearances at the Victoria Palace Theatre in
1962, they had topped the bill for over 30 years.
They were, of
course, all very well established acts before they came
together at the London Palladium in 1931 and their names read
like a litany of the all time greats of variety.
Nervo and Teddy Knox -
who combined the agility of their high-wire training with the
skill and hilarity of their slow motion wrestling and a spoof
Naughton and Jimmy Gold
- a pair of slapstick comics who, for two decades, had been
an integral part of the London pantomime scene. Although they
were ten years older than the other members of The Gang,
their humour blended incredibly well with Nervo and Knox and
Charlie's incredible mastery of the art of double-talk is
something that will not be forgotten by everyone who knew
Then there was
a pair of comics who had worked with a variety of other
partners before they eventually came together for the very
first time with that great music hall star of the 1920s
Florrie Ford - Bud Flanagan and Chesney Allen.
acts - but there was someone else too! A man who started his
show business life a serious juggler and was later described
often by fellow comics simply as "The funniest man in
the World". A man who did more to ruin the french
language than any cheap Cognac - 'Monsewer' Eddie Gray.
became a real comedy phenomenon, packing theatres and also
appearing in a number of films.
what they were! Their antics combining verbal gymnastics with
farce and elaborate physical comedy and accompanied by
slapstick and, usually, custard pies.
Off stage too
they developed an infamous reputation as practical jokers,
and played many pranks on one another and fellow guest stars;
hoaxes that ranged from the harmless to the cruel and, on
some occasions, the downright dangerous.
remained hugely popular for many years, Flanagan in
particular being adored by the British public. It was an
obvious idea to bring them to TV, and at least two of their
first seven television shows featured extracts from a Crazy
Gang theatre production, Jokers Wild, which Jack Hylton had
mounted at the Victoria Palace in London since the end of
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